Concerns have been raised over the potential impact of a proposed bridge across Songkhla Lake in Thailand on the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin population. Environmentalist Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat highlighted the importance of conservation efforts to protect the last 14 remaining Thai dolphins.
Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, an expert in marine science and environmental issues, took to social media to express concerns about the bridge project, which aims to ease transportation for local residents. The project has received support from international financing, but concerns are raised about the potential impact it could have on the already scarce population of the Irrawaddy dolphin species inhabiting the lake.
Supporters of the bridge argue that it would bring significant benefits to the local community, but international financiers are said to be wary due to the potential risks it poses to Thailand’s last group of freshwater dolphins. While alternative funding sources are available, the future of the project remains uncertain.
Dr Thon explained that, in recent months, the commitment to dolphin conservation has increased, leading to more research and collaboration between construction agencies and conservation groups. This has led to the discovery of the dolphins on two occasions in the past three months, after a lengthy period without sightings. Dr Thon said…
“We found the dolphins twice in the last three months when we hadn’t seen them for years. It’s not that there are no more dolphins, but we haven’t had enough research funds. We now have new equipment such as underwater sound recorders, drones, and even eDNA surveys. This increased effort also engages the local community and creates better results. This is sustainable development in the real world, a win-win scenario that we can see in practice.”
Next month, a conservation plan for the Irrawaddy dolphins in Songkhla Lake will be considered by the Rare Wildlife Underwater and Ecosystem Taskforce (RUWM) before moving on to the next stages. This will serve as evidence of Thailand’s commitment to the conservation of the dolphin population, although the final decision regarding bridge financing remains to be seen.
For now, Dr Thon praised the collaborative work to protect the remaining 14 Irrawaddy dolphins, stating…
“The real success is finding the dolphins again. The latest discovery was just three days ago. Thank you to everyone who has contributed in any way to help preserve the last 14 siblings, ensuring they remain with Songkhla Lake forever.”
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